Tizzard backs 'River' to keep improving
Colin Tizzard sees no reason why Native River can't repeat his Cheltenham Gold Cup heroics and has rubbished talk that his stable star is a soft-ground specialist.
Native River returned to Tizzard's Dorset yard on August 1 after his summer break and will commence his bid for the lucrative 'Chase Triple Crown' in the Betfair Chase on November 24.
The Haydock showpiece is the first leg of the €1.1 million bonus for also winning the King George and the Gold Cup and Tizzard expects the eight-year-old to find further improvement after coming back in "beautiful form".
"Every time we've run him he's improved, and there's no reason to suspect he's stopped improving yet, so there's every chance he could take another step forward this season," Tizzard said.
"He won the Gold Cup on very soft ground but nobody at home thinks he needs that going. He's certainly not dependent on it and if it came up a standard good-to-soft Gold Cup, he'd love it."
Elsewhere, Willie Mullins's Alexander Banquet - Ruby Walsh's first Cheltenham Festival winner in 1998 - died at the age of 25 at his Closutton yard over the weekend.